Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition whereby “the healthy functioning of body organs and systems is maintained.” Different definitions have been used over the years for various purposes. Today, we generally use the term health to refer to the ability of an individual to function normally in his or her daily life. Health is the absence of illness and disease, the ability to survive and maintain proper body processes, and to participate in society.
A key component to developing a healthy lifestyle is mental health, which is essentially the ability to understand and manage one’s own mental health, including one’s thoughts, emotions, behavior, and physical health. Another element is physical health, which is the capacity to achieve and sustain optimal functioning in physical activities and environments. The third component, emotional health, is the capacity to manage and respond appropriately to stress. These elements combine to create a personal wellness.
The components of a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet are important for everyone, but they are particularly important for those with chronic diseases. These include: heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, and other immune system disorders. Ongoing treatment for these illnesses can help to prevent serious health complications.
Community-based approaches to promoting good health include efforts to promote physical environments that are free of pollution, cigarette smoke, chemicals, and other sources of illness. These interventions are most effective when they are coordinated and applied in communities and school settings. Public education campaigns and the implementation of policies designed to make tobacco sellers responsible for the health of their clients are examples of such efforts. These programs have had considerable success in reducing smoking prevalence among all age groups, especially in children.
Individual-based interventions are also important for improving health status. They can improve self-image and enhance confidence as people gain knowledge about the disease or condition they are suffering from and acquire skills to manage it. These include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and making dietary and lifestyle choices that contribute to improved health. Self-monitoring is another important component of these interventions aimed at enhancing overall wellness.
Finally, to achieve well-being, it is necessary to reduce overall health risks, particularly mortality, morbidity, disability, and associated factors. This is a multi-pronged approach that takes into account prevention, early detection, and providing care. It combines public policy, community services, and personal-level interventions to improve health.